What are the six crus of cognac?

Answered by Michael Weatherspoon

The six crus of are Grande , Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires. These crus are specific regions within the Cognac appellation in France, and each one has its own unique characteristics that contribute to the flavor profile of the Cognac produced there.

Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne are considered the top crus of Cognac. The chalky soil in these regions is ideal for growing the Ugni Blanc grape, which is the main grape variety used in Cognac production. The eaux-de-vie (distilled ) produced in these crus are known for their finesse, elegance, and floral notes. When a Cognac is labeled as “Grande Champagne” or “Petite Champagne,” it means that the eaux-de-vie used in the blend come exclusively from these crus.

Borderies is another cru that is highly regarded in the Cognac world. It is the smallest of the six crus and is known for producing Cognacs with a round and fruity character. The eaux-de-vie from Borderies often exhibit notes of violets, honey, and nuts. Cognacs that are labeled as “Borderies” contain eaux-de-vie exclusively from this particular cru.

Fins Bois is a larger cru that surrounds Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. The eaux-de-vie from Fins Bois tend to be more robust and full-bodied compared to those from the top crus. Cognacs made with Fins Bois eaux-de-vie often have flavors of dried fruits, spices, and oak. While Fins Bois is not as prestigious as Grande Champagne or Petite Champagne, it still plays an important role in the overall Cognac production.

Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires are considered the lower crus in terms of quality. The eaux-de-vie from these regions are typically used in younger Cognacs or for blending purposes. Cognacs made with Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires eaux-de-vie can exhibit more rustic and earthy flavors.

As a sommelier, I have had the opportunity to taste Cognacs from each of these crus. It is fascinating to compare the differences in flavor profiles and understand how the terroir of each region influences the final product. Tasting a Cognac from Grande Champagne, with its delicate floral notes, alongside a Cognac from Fins Bois, with its robust and spicy character, highlights the diversity within the Cognac category.

The six crus of Cognac – Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires – each bring their own unique qualities to the world of Cognac. Whether it's the elegance of the top crus or the more rustic characteristics of the lower crus, each region contributes to the wide range of flavors and styles found in Cognac.